When I ditched my relaxed locks, I felt a surge of independence from overly processed hair. Instead of my incoming 'fro preventing me from jumping in a lake or quickly getting ready, it allowed me the freedom to wash-n-go, something that I had longed for during my relaxed-hair years. With chemically straightened hair, my mane just couldn't grow past my shoulders. Now, my naturally kinky hair has grown rapidly and it's incredibly versatile — there are few styles that I can't quickly maneuver this beast into.
Having my hair longer than it had ever been definitely was a novelty for me, I constantly play with it and ooo and aww at the thick coils and its beef with humidity. It doesn't come as a huge surprise that strangers I meet tend to do the same, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. I'm totally up for talking about my 'do and my hair routine, but it's those uninformed, slightly rude comments or questions that still make me cringe no matter how many times I hear them. Some of these comments that are projected onto us kinky gals literally make me want to crawl under a rock out of embarrassment "Ughhh, just stop talking, it's too much... you can't be that clueless".
Yes, it's washed. And no, you can't touch it
Here's the thing: These comments are not one-offs. Sure, sometimes, I will give someone a pass, but most of the time, I get a headache from my eyes rolling so far back into my head. I definitely think that knowledge is power, but guess what? Sometimes I just want to know how long you've been waiting for the Q train, I don't want to talk to someone about how "weird" my hair is. These are comments you should refrain from saying to a natural girl.
1. "My hair would just, like, never do that!"
Yes, I'm sure it wouldn't and my hair would never do THAT. Let us marvel at the subtle differences of our genetic make-up publicly and bask in the acceptance of our diversity while you ring up my purchase at H&M. Oh, actually, wait. That sounds awful. Let's just be silent.
2. "Why doesn't your hair move?"
Well, actually it does move, it just doesn't move when a car door slams a block away.
3. "You can straighten your hair though, right?"
Of course I can straighten my hair. Literally everyone on the planet can straighten their hair if they want to straighten their hair. Are you asking me to straighten my hair? I feel like you want me to have straight hair now...
4. "Wow! It's just like Sideshow Bob's Hair!"
Not a day goes by where I'm not subconsciously begging a stranger to compare me to a psycho-killer cartoon character. Thank you, you've just called me a clown and think you were complimenting me.
5. "Sometimes when I don't wash my hair it starts to dread."
No, sir, it does not. What you are experiencing is dirty hair and knots and in reality, if you are wearing dreads you are probably washing your hair a couple of times a week. Dreadlocks are usually clean, with specific hair-care regimens to keep the shape and hair growing.
6. "My hair is the exact same when it rains, trust me."
Interesting, now is it the same when you shower? Or is it just rain that makes your roots grow in kinky and suddenly you've taken on an entirely different hair type?
7. "It's like a Brillo pad!"
Wow, a brillo pad? What a compliment! Please, go on.
8. "Did you cut your hair?"
No, I did not cut my hair, it's raining outside and the hair shrinkage caused me to lose about four inches of length. Now that I've answered the question, you can stop asking me literally every time it rains if I cut my hair. I will let you know when that happens and save us both the same repetitive conversation.
9. "I think everyone should go natural. Like, why not just love yourself?"
Yeaaaa, well I certainly don't recommend going natural if you've just had a child or if you are in med school or have any other serious commitments that will get in the way of the natural hair commitment because it is a big one. The idea that natural hair is easier to care for than relaxed hair is completely false. My happiness now depends on my hair's happiness — most of the time.
10. "Is that a wig?"
This is called a blow-out. I put heat on my hair to make it even larger and longer than it was when I woke up. I'm not sure if this is a compliment or an insult, but I can tell you that this is still my hair.
11. "Can I touch it?"
Yes, you can touch my hair. For $100. Think of it as an expensive petting zoo, because that's how you're behaving when you ask to touch a part of my body all willy-nilly, like it's no big deal. This is a code of conduct we learned in grade school: Keep your hands to yourself. Also, WAIT for me to tell you that it is not ok for you to touch my hair before you go in for it with your grubby hands.
Image: AP Photographie/Flickr; Giphy; Kristin Collins Jackson